Simpson serves up new volleyball coach

by Ethan Humble, Staff Reporter

Kekailoa “KK” Palea will begin his first season at the Simpson volleyball program’s helm starting Spring 2021. 

The former player at Graceland University was hired on July 1 as the ninth coach in Simpson volleyball’s history, just the third since 1985. 

With the season being pushed back to the spring, Palea’s team is left waiting for the competition to commence; however, he views this change in a positive light.

“The silver lining of this is that I could be in season right now trying to train a different way than [the team] is used to,” he said. “Instead, I get to do all of that before our season starts.”

The hiring marks Palea’s first time being the head coach of a collegiate team, but Palea does not see the experience as a problem with the support he is receiving.

“I know a lot of the coaches on staff through coaching connections in the past,” Palea said. “There were a lot of people that had good things to say about Simpson, and it was a nice opportunity to have available.”

Being a college graduate himself, Coach Palea understands the importance of academics and other commitments in college, along with being an athlete.

“At the Division III level, there is a nice balance among the players and coaches of athletics, academics, home life and whatever else may come up,” he said.

Senior defensive specialist Blair Glendenning says she has confidence that being on a team coached by Palea will be nothing short of a success.

“I have really enjoyed Coach KK thus far,” she said. “You can tell through practice whenever he is correcting you or explaining a drill that he really cares about the team and the game of volleyball.”

Glendenning says that the team has responded well to the coaching change at practice and appreciates the new coaching style Palea has brought.

“I think we [the team] all appreciate and like the new changes that are happening,” the senior said. “He is spicing up the practices every week so that we are not getting bored. Since we do not have games for a handful of months, we all love his energy”

Despite the team finishing 8-19 (0-8 in ARC) in their 2019 campaign, Palea has full confidence the team will be in form when their spring season commences.

“We have some pretty big goals,” he said. “We are trying to go 8-0 in the conference since we are only playing our conference schedule.”

With the high expectations that Coach KK set forth, it is his goal to get the whole team behind him, from top to bottom.

“I do not think there is any other direction to go, especially with the girls we have,” Palea said. “I think they are just as fired as we are as a staff. This group really does think anything is possible.”

Palea will be joined by assistant coaches Suzanne Horner, Barb Overton and Jessica Hazelton when the team kicks off their competitive season after winter break.